Usually when a ‘popular Japanese action game’ is available to review, going by past experiences I almost know what to expect. Within the past 12 months, all of these ‘popular Japanese action games’ have involved at least 2 of the following, semi naked girls, boobs, magic and a horrifically confusing story. As this title followed suit, of course I expected the worst, especially considering the name sounds suspiciously like anal sex. Controlling a ninja, ridding the world of rabid beasts, I expected my character to strip off (expected not wanted mind) and the beasts to eventually become magical scantily clad whores (again, expected not wanted) … but to my surprise I was wrong! Here is a ‘popular Japanese action game’ that didn’t have to rely on adolescent breasts to get its critical acclaim.
Sadame is a brand new Japanese action RPG from Rising Star releasing as a digital download for the Nintendo 3DS. Giving you control of 4 unique characters, Sadame has you traverse the ravaged land and rid it of the ferocious monsters that now plague it. Whether it be Ninja, Monk, Samurai or Rogue, each character plays differently with their own unique weapon of choice and spells to match. Featuring dozens of levels, and bosses at that, defeating the latter will strengthen your Karma, a dark powerful power that makes you into an unstoppable beast but your enemies into evil bastards that can’t handle it. As with your typical RPG, level up your stats and collect weapons and armour pieces, however in a twist to the format, you won’t find out what you’ve picked up until you’ve finished that level, meaning it could be for a different class, so replaying missions to pick up items you want is essential. It promises to be a fast paced, action game focusing on the dark magical lore that radiates from Japanese story books, so does it execute cleanly or does it make a hack of it?
Sadame is great action game that throws more enemies at you before you can reflect on the wave you’ve just decimated, which is tremendous, however the pace of each fight is a little lacklustre. Each mission tasks you with simply killing a seemingly endless wave of enemies in a restricted space before eventually moving on, and for the most part Sadame makes this enjoyable, but the combat is just missing stylish transition. No matter how much you improve your character’s speed, the combat is rather sluggish and there is no flow between your attacks, even when delivering a combo. It’s not the slowest display of combat I’ve seen, but the awkward pauses between attacks just stop the fluidity of the battle and often result in you getting an axe to the face once you’ve stopped moving. Your chosen character too can perform a large number of spells and abilities and at the press of a button you can use it, or that’s what’s supposed to happen anyway as more often than not you’ll have your magic interrupted as a result of having too many enemies on the screen. The game claims to feature dozens of unique boss fights, each of them varying greatly from one another and in some ways they do, but ultimately you’ll use the same tactic for each of them, wallop it with all you’ve got. Each boss is grand, powerful and hugely creative in design, but in all honestly you don’t need an intricate strategy to defeat them, just a powerful weapon, as they all follow that typical boss battle pattern that very quickly becomes boring.
Visually the game is excellent. Each location you assassinate in is greatly different to the previous battlefield, which gives this otherwise repetitive game, albeit genre, at least a bit of variance. The colour scheme may be a tad dull for the majority of your adventure, but the absence of harsh, vivid colours really complements the world that the game is set in. The bosses on the other hand are extravagant, they fill the screen and they’re wonderfully vibrant, which again works very well against the otherwise dark backdrop. The item lottery is a great feature that adds both excitement and frustration to your adventure as you could several missions in before you find a decent set of armour, or likewise you could pick up an incredibly powerful weapon very early on. Sadame is a terrifically challenging game too even if it’s concept is simple. Large numbers of enemies appear around you, in darstardly combinations each time that truly test your nerve and ability to scan the battlefield. Going in all guns blazing is a quick way to get yourself killed, so taking a step back and assessing each enemy’s attack pattern will keep you alive for longer, adding a nice touch of strategy to the battle even if it’s not necessarily needed.
It may be slow in pace and it’s not as smooth flowing as you’d like, but Sadame is a pretty solid action RPG. It’s refreshing to return to a game focusing on ancient ‘ninja’ and ‘samurai’ as it’s a lore that hasn’t seen any action for quite some time. It’s dark, dull colour scheme fits perfectly alongside the action and the huge contrast between the striking colours of the game’s bosses is fantastic. The game’s narrative is a little here nor there, it adds a bit of drive to your adventure but there’s nothing really happening to make you follow what’s going on. Sadame is a great game to play for a short amount of time, but in that time you’ll be more than satisfied with what’s on offer.